With European countries leading the world in patents of renewable energy (40% in 2016), could this be Europe’s silver bullet in the fight against climate change?
Almost a year after the legislation was proposed in the European Commission, the discussion of decarbonization of the heating and cooling sector is gaining traction. Spanish Member of the European Parliament, Mr. José Blanco Lopez, one its biggest proponents, believes we need to seize the day and push for more ambitious directives than the ones currently set. In his opening speech on 30 May 2017, he said clearly that “the world has come together in the Paris Agreement, and decided to fight climate change together for a better, healthier, and more sustainable future.” He went on to stress the vital role renewable energy will play in moving towards a clean energy system.
The initial goal was for Europe to collectively reach a share of 27% renewables in energy consumption by 2030. Mr. Blanco Lopez, as well as other voices on Tuesday night, believe the goal is too low and if not met, could negatively impact all the directives in the legislation. Parliament also agrees with this and has confirmed the directive should be set at least 35% and has discussed with other Member States increasing their goals.
Paula Abreu Marques, Head of Unit in charge of Renewables and CCS policy, at the European Commission said they are working on introducing new articles that would encourage each Member State to increase the integration of renewables by 1% every year respectively.
In considering the criteria to achieve the objectives, Mr. Blanco Lopez proposes in his draft report giving member states more autonomy and flexibility in achieving these directives, as each state has personal environmental needs.
As Siim Meeliste, Counselor for Energy for the incoming Estonian Presidency said that Member States need to be able to individually implement the directives into their systems because states vary greatly on factors of climate, geography, resources and trends within the heating and cooling sector.
Nigel Cotton, Director of Building Construction & Technology at the European Copper Alliance touched upon the key role consumers will play in increasing reliance on renewables. Heating and cooling make up 50% of energy consumption in Europe, thus by increasing knowledge on the sector and reducing risk, consumers can quickly grow this market and become “ambassadors to renewable energy”. Furthermore, if governments at national and municipal levels can make renewable heating and cooling options more readily available and accessible it will greatly decrease the demand for fossil fuels and gas, thereby decarbonizing Europe.